On Tuesday, Vice President of the United States Mike Pence met with Southwest Georgia farmers whose crops were impacted by Hurricane Michael.
Pence was accompanied on the tour by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, who is also a former governor of Georgia, as well as other state and federal officials, including U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson (R-Georgia), U.S. Senator David Perdue (R-Georgia) and Georgia Agricultural Commissioner Gary Black . Second Lady Karen Pence also joined the vice president on his travel through Southwest Georgia.
The vice president arrived in Albany, Ga. via airplane shortly before noon Tuesday.
VP Mike Pence has landed in Albany as he plans to tour the hurricane damaged agriculture industry here. pic.twitter.com/iRQPD0HLbX
— Richard Elliot (@RElliotWSB) October 16, 2018
He used Marine One, a VH-22 Osprey aircraft, to make several stops across Southwest Georgia.
Pence also spoke to farmers attending the Sunbelt Agricultural Exposition in Moultrie, Ga. Pence said the hurricane has caused an estimated $2 billion in damage to the state’s cotton, pecan and peanut crops.
“In Decatur County alone, Georgia farmers and producers lost up to 70 percent of their fall vegetables, 90 percent of the sweet corn, 95 percent of the unharvested cotton crop, 95 percent of poultry and 100 percent of the pecan crop,” he said. “Our administration will continue unrelentingly to deploy the manpower and resources of the federal government to this region and to these communities until you come all the way back.”
Also speaking at the Sunbelt Ag Expo, American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall, who is from Georgia, said he has worked with the Administration, USDA and Congress to secure assistance and encouraged farmers to “get outside your own fence rows and talk to congressmen, senators and the administration. “Tell your stories.”
The vice president also toured Flint River Mills in Bainbridge, Ga. FRM has been in operation for 90 years and provides feed for about eight states across the Southeast United States.
VP Mike Pence is talking with farmers in Moultrie about the damage caused by Hurricane Michael. We’re the only local station touring with the VP today. pic.twitter.com/P743iG3QAm
— Richard Elliot (@RElliotWSB) October 16, 2018
Speaking at Flint River Mills, Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black said officials estimate the hurricane has caused a loss of greater than $1 billion to vegetables and pecans grown in Georgia and added estimates were not yet complete on the state’s peanut, cotton and timber crops. Black said the current damage estimate includes $480 million in damage to vegetables and $600 million in damaged to pecans. Decatur County is the leading grower of corn in the state, and is in the top 10 for peanuts, cotton and several other row crops, according to FarmGate statistics.
U.S. Representative Sanford Bishop (D-Albany) also spoke at FRM.
“Agriculture is number one — the top element in the Georgia economy,” Bishop said. “And we’ve got to get it back — back going. And, of course, I’m going to work with my colleagues and we’re going to do our dead-level best to make sure that we get that supplemental appropriations so we can get back to where we need to be — producing the highest quality, the safest, and most abundant food and fiber anywhere in the world.”
The vice president also visited Pecan Ridge Plantation, located near the town of Brinson in Decatur County. The plantation is owned and operated by Rob and Eric Cohen and their families.
Pence said he was thankful for the work of first responders in the immediate aftermath of the storm, and pledged that state and federal agencies would work together to bring Southwest Georgia.
“Karen and I are very moved by what we’ve seen. When you see the violence of this storm, and the landscape, and the impact on homes in the area, I can’t help but feel thankful, first and foremost, to God and to our first responders. I mean, to see old grove trees snapped like toothpicks, to see landscape swept away like it’s been, it just tells me that our first responders on the ground did an incredible job with God’s grace. And we’re grateful to them today.”
Talking about the storm’s impact on the Southeast’s economy, Pence continued, “Agriculture has been impacted here. Families in the city and on the farm have been impacted greatly by Hurricane Michael. We’re going to be there with government programs. We’re going to work closely with members of Congress to make sure that the support is there to bring these communities back.”
U.S. President Donald Trump visited Macon, Ga., on Monday to survey storm damage, and also visited the Panhandle of Florida.
Federal funding will be made available to state, tribal, and eligible local governments for emergency work in the counties of Baker, Bleckley, Burke, Calhoun, Colquitt, Crisp, Decatur, Dodge, Dooly, Dougherty, Early, Emanuel, Grady, Houston, Jefferson, Jenkins, Johnson, Laurens, Lee, Macon, Miller, Mitchell, Pulaski, Seminole, Sumter, Terrell, Thomas, Treutlen, Turner, Wilcox, and Worth.
Additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further damage assessments.
Residents and business owners who sustained losses in these counties could begin applying for assistance Monday by registering online or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA(3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired.
More pictures at the Atlanta-Journal Constitution’s article on Pence’s visit
- Remarks by Vice President Pence During Tour of Feed Mill Affected by Hurricane Michael
- Remarks by Vice President Pence at the Sunbelt Ag Expo
- Remarks by Vice President Pence During Tour with Pecan Farmers Affected by Hurricane Michael